Tuesday, July 29, 2008

a very good man

On my first full day in San Francisco, I spent the early part of the day playing tourist. A highlight was a visit to City Lights Book Store. When I am away on my own, my kids and my spouse are never very far from my mind and this wonderful and historic book store seemed like as good a place as any to buy them some presents.

And so I did. I bought an armload of stories that I had never seen anywhere else and put them all in canvas bag with the store's name on it. I left the store feeling very pleased with myself.

I schlepped those books from North Beach to Union Square, for the orientation session for BlogHer speakers. But before going out for dinner and on to the various BlogHer welcome receptions, I stowed all my stuff in Babz's room in the hotel, so that I wouldn't have to carry them or risk losing them. Again, I felt very pleased with myself.

I had a lovely evening. I don't handle crowds of new people very well but there is something to be said for hitching yourself to an extrovert and just enjoying the experiences. And so I basked in Babz's glow and met some wonderful people at the Speakers' reception. I even won the door prize, a Nintendo DS.

As that party wound down, we headed up to the Newbie party for BlogHer first-timers. I demurred, as I was not a newbie but someone convinced me that I could play a role in welcoming the newbies. It sounded good to me, and besides it was in a rooftop bar with a beautiful view.
I had expected to make the evening a short one, as I was jet-lagged and feeling the three hour time difference. I also had to commute out to friends' place where I was staying in Oakland. But it wasn't until we arrived at our third party of the evening (in yet another part of the hotel) that I realized that I had hit a wall (and that the room was just too packed for me). I left that party as quickly as I had entered it and headed back up to Babz's room to get my stuff.

Babz walked me down to the taxi stand (it was too late for me to feel safe walking home from the BART in Oakland) and saw me get off safely.

It was at that point that I realized that I was more than a little drunk. As I had been busy socializing all evening, the bar had been open and my glass was always full. And somehow it hadn't occurred to me to get someone to fill my glass with water.

I managed to slur out the address in Oakland to my cab driver, a young man who was really very nice. When I couldn't tell him how to get to my destination, he first called a friend and then used his Blackberry to call up a map. He had to use it again when I couldn't tell him where to exit off the freeway (something I could not have done even if I were sober. I am a terrible navigator).

While he drove, we chatted a little bit. I told him about the conference. He told me that he didn't usually like to drive to Oakland but that he was doing it for me because I "seem like a nice person."

"I am a nice person," I enthusiastically replied.

We were both relieved and happy when he dropped me off in front of my friends' building and we wished each other well.

In the middle of the night (skipping over the part where I locked myself out and had to wake my hosts who I had only met the day before so that they could let me in), I woke with a start and registered the fact that I no longer had the City Lights bag.

I tip-toed down the hall and back out to the street to see if I had left the bag on the front stoop (where I had sat while I had been trying to sober up), to no avail. Nor did Babz find the bag in her room. My receipt didn't have the name of the taxi company (and I couldn't remember). I checked twice with hotel security (in case it had been found and dropped off there) and with the lost and found table for BlogHer. By Saturday, I had given up and was trying to decide if I should return to City Lights and attempt to replace the presents I'd bought.

Then, on Saturday, as I was being miked for the session at which I was speaking, I heard my name being called.
"I was your taxi driver," he said. And on his arm was a bag full of books.

"How did you find me?"

He made typing motions with his fingers. "Your name was on your credit card slip."

I was euphoric.

I asked him if I could hug him.

I offered him money (he refused).

Babz took his picture (which I won't post here because it doesn't do him justice).

And everyone made a big fuss.

"I was in the neighbourhood," he said, modestly.

But I know that he went to great lengths to track me down. He googled my name to find my blog. My last post had said that I was going to the BlogHer conference. I had linked to the BlogHer agenda, so he must have read it to find my name and the title of my session (I had told him that I was speaking). He then came to the hotel, checked the directory and followed the labyrinthine corridors to find me.

I am so touched by what he did. I wish that there had been something I could have done (I could have insisted on giving him money but I felt like it would embarrass him). His name is Eduardo and he is a lovely man.

The next time I have the chance to something nice for a stranger, I will think of Eduardo. I encourage all of you to do the same. If you do, please let me know in the comments (or if something like this has ever happened to you, please share that as well).

And yes, I really did behave myself for the rest of the conference.


nonlineargirl said...

That is a good man. And with any luck he'll show up at your blog to read this post.

Average Jane said...

What a great story!

I don't know how I missed you at BlogHer this year...no wait a minute, I know exactly how I missed you - it was insanely huge!

sassymonkey said...

That is a very, very good man.
I'm jealous that you got to go shopping at City Lights. Very jealous.

Amy @ Taste Like Crazy said...

I LOVE this story!

I got here via Elisa Camahort's tweet and just had to comment.

Adrienne said...

Pay it forward. That's always the best way. And maybe a copy of this post to the cab company.

Lisa Stone said...

Karma rebate baby. And you deserve it. :)

Thank you @ElisaC for twittering this!

SUEB0B said...

Wow. That is dedication!

Miscellaneous-Mum said...

Also here via @Elisa. what a heartwarming story :)

Yvonne said...

This proves it - there are a LOT of good people left in the world. If YOU'RE one of them, you will attract the others.

YOU are surely one of the best. Wish I'd been at Blogher to meet you.

Lovebabz said...

I must say that story was the best part of being in SF for me! I loved it and I wish you would post the photo whether is does justice or not...it was a beautiful story and well worth sharingover and over again! I am still in awe of his personal kindness!

I did so enjoy hanging out with you! You are AMAZING and lots and lots of FUN! Did we really rink all the OOPS Wine? YIKES!

laurie said...

Best post-BlogHer post I've read.

So good to meet you during your quiet time in the speaker's room. :) one of the other lauries : )

Jenny said...

Laurie, this is fantastic and just so incredibly reaffirming. I LOVE that there are people like this in the world. (It doesn't surprise me too much that there are people like this in San Francisco, where I used to live and which I adore.)

Thanks for sharing and giving me warm feelings for my fellow human beings!!


northerngurl said...

Awww...the kindness of a stranger. That is so awesome! :-)

ShannanB aka Mommy Bits said...

What an amazing post. It is so refreshing to hear a story like this, especially in a larger city like San Francisco. I actually teared up a bit.

Maria said...

Love this story. I agree with Lisa Stone, karma baby. Thank you for sharing it.

califmom said...

Not every city has a taxi driver like that! Wow!

Anonymous said...

This is a terrific story -- thanks for posting, and I hope I run across this guy next time I need to get to Oakland from the city late at night!

Cynthia Samuels said...

How great! We forget about all the people in the world who do the right thing every day. And your protrayal of it was such a lovely way to remind us all. It also is an example of BlogHer serendipity! It abounds, no?
I am also so happy to find another (Oh and also Sassy Monkey) City Lights fiend. When we got married and moved to Palo Alto from the east, the first thing I did was to drag my new husband there. I had been an aspiring intellectualista in high school and Ferlingetti was one of my heroes.
You deserve all this, of course....

Schmutzie said...

That is just the kind of story I needed to read this morning. What a guy!

Jaelithe said...

Eduardo just made my WEEK.

Lori said...

OK, that story just made me cry. :-/ I am feeling a lot of love for both you and Eduardo right now. <sob!>

GeekMommy said...

I love stories like this. Eduardo is the kind of person who makes the world a better place! Because that kind of generosity and goodwill just spreads.

Thanks for sharing this.

Jill said...

Thank you for blogging this story. I always feel like everyone is capable of being like Eduardo - we just have to keep believing.

Liz said...

What an amazing story! You're a great man, Eduardo! I hope you're reading this! I love to read real-life stories like this, it helps restore y faith in human beings.

Mom2Amara said...

I am so touched reading this post. It truly restores one's faith in humanity.

I'm so glad the books found it's way back to you. (And glad you have a legible signature!)

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